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Old October 28, 2018, 07:52 PM   #1
Prof Young
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Tamp your power then your bullet?

I've been muzzle loader hunting off and on for a few years. Am gearing up to do so again and as I was sighting in the smokepole it occurred to me that I tamp the bullet and the powder all at once. Is there a reason or an advantage to tamping the powder before you add in the bullet?

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Old October 28, 2018, 09:25 PM   #2
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I have never tamp powder first. I always put powder and bullet in for my CVA inline. It is important to get even pressure each time you load. Develop a technic you can repeat reliably.
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Old October 28, 2018, 10:20 PM   #3
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Powder doesn’t need tamped at all. The length of drop down the barrel settles the powder just fine. Seat the ball or bullet on the powder with out tamping and shoot away. Any undue tamping or bouncing the ram rod on the projectile will deform it.
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Old October 29, 2018, 07:49 AM   #4
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I shoot Patched ball only. I also have more than enough strength to seat a ball atop of its powder charge without having to bounce my rifles ram rod. If shooting a substitute? A specific brand of Powder overly compress is known to increase its barrels PSI.

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Old October 29, 2018, 08:07 AM   #5
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The correct loading procedure is to pour in the powder and then drive the ball home on top of it. There is no need to ram the powder by itself.

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Old October 29, 2018, 12:32 PM   #6
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Pour the powder in and then the projectile. All you're going for is to take up air space. There is no need to keep packing it. You want a consistent seating pressure every time.
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Old October 29, 2018, 02:27 PM   #7
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Consistency is most important

Is there a reason or an advantage to tamping the powder before you add in the bullet?
There is really no advantage but I'm sure some folks out there, think so. As previously mentioned, consistency is very important. I have observed various loading techniques and the only issue I ever have, is safety. I too load powder and patched round ball. I can gauge my ramrod pressure fairly well. Although it may be safe, what is a calibrated bounce. ….

Any undue tamping or bouncing the ram rod on the projectile will deform it.
Not only deform a ballistic tip but crush a pellet. Now, a round ball is a different story as they are very forgiving. ….

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Old October 30, 2018, 12:12 PM   #8
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They say that there's exceptions to every rule.
Perhaps one of those exceptions for tamping down the powder alone is when loading an over-powder card, vegetable fiber wad or card, or a felt wad of some sort on top of the dropped powder charge
That would promote compressing the powder more directly without any of the friction involved of loading the projectile, as a totally separate operation.

If the projectile were a conical it might be a beneficial factor.
If the powder were compressed first and by itself, it's possible that the results would lead to more consistent "high & even" compression.

Only trial & error would tell.

I try to keep an open mind as there's as many different loading variables as there are stars in the sky.

Last edited by arcticap; October 31, 2018 at 11:45 PM.
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Old October 30, 2018, 04:25 PM   #9
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There used to be a gadget, Kadooty, that tamped the round ball consistently everytime. Consistency is the key to accuracy.
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Old October 30, 2018, 06:01 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the feedback.

Thanks. You all have pretty much confirmed what I expected. Pour the measured powder, push in the ball or bullet. Fire in the hole!

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Old October 30, 2018, 07:28 PM   #11
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FWIW; long ago, I got into the habit of giving a couple of light raps on the side plate panel just opposite the breech/lock area right after dumping in the charge from the measure. This helps to settle the main charge of powder a bit better (IMO), and It also helps to fill the fire channel a bit better on a cap lock. It also seems to settle powder some better in the inner coned part of the touch-hole liner on a flinter (both of my flinters have the coned liners). Then, I ram the patched r.b. firmly against the powder and I'm ready to cap the nipple or prime the pan. I learned this from one of my old mentors many moons ago. It's just part of my loading procedure, and adds no real time to the sequence for me at all between shots (YMMV).
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Old October 31, 2018, 02:05 PM   #12
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First of all, I should say that I have very limited experience on this subject, however, I can say this: 40-odd years ago, I had the opportunity to use a Thompson-Center 50 caliber percussion Hawken. It was a lot of fun. Never the less, unless the powder was tamped down before seating the ball, it would misfire, again and again. It seemed to happen nearly everytime. I would get it to fire by pulling the nipple and trickling a small amount of very fine powder into the hole, replacing the nipple and firing. A few times of that routine was enough to get me to tamp the powder everytime after that, ending the problem. But what do I know? That was a long time ago in a world that seems to be gone but for an occasional dream. I figured that's why it was done in the film Across the Wide Missouri, where the ramrod ended up being shot through the Indian as there was no time to load the ball.
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Old November 1, 2018, 04:10 AM   #13
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Pathfinder....The T/C has a patent breech and you were probably just dealing with a dirty fire channel on it. A pipe cleaner with a little solvent or plain water to clean it would have solved your problem. Under normal circumstances, there is no need to tamp powder before loading the ball, it will flow where it needs to be and work just fine.
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Old November 1, 2018, 10:28 AM   #14
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This is funny because it involves loading revolvers.
I load several cylinders at a time off the frame using a loading press.
I drop in the powder charges and then add a wax board paper wad over the powder and then ram down the powder and wad before any ball is placed on top of the paper wad.

Wny? Because the APP powder compresses better that way and I'm sealing the powder charge with the wad.

Only after the powder is compressed do I place the balls on each chamber and ram them individually. At this point, the powder can be slightly additionally compressed by the 2nd ramming to the depth and amount of my choosing.

I've found that APP greatly benefits from high compression.
I believe that Pyrodex P is another powder that also benefits from high compression.

If a person wants to maximize their powder compression without needing to place as much effort and stress on the loading lever or on their hand while loading a revolver, then I would recommend tamping down the powder in this manner.

It helps to maximize the amount of powder that can be squeezed into a chamber with a finite dimension.
And high compression is what allows 46 grains or more of Pyrodex P to be loaded into a Remington 1858 chamber.
It may or may not work the same for black powder since it doesn't compress in the same fashion as Pyrodex or APP or perhaps Black MZ powder as well.

But when you have a very coarse powder like Black MZ I don't see how it can hurt to ram the powder into the chambers individually in order to maximize compression and effort with a short loading lever, depending on the revolver and the length of the loading lever.

Let's not characterize all of the loading methods into the same basket, and realize that some unconventional methods can have a logical reason and benefits to them.

Another example I was just reading about was when Val Forgett went on safari in Africa, and he loaded 200 grain powder charges into a .58 Hawken Hunter and killed hippo, elephant and buffalo using over 600 grain conicals.
I can certainly understand the reason why a person loading 200 grains of powder might want to tamp down their powder charge before they ram their 600 grain bullet.
I'm not saying that he did or he didn't, but who wants to argue that someone's loading procedure is better than another's.
That what makes muzzle loading an individual shooting sport.
And also why revolvers are in a category among themselves.
If it can work for a revolver, then perhaps it can work for a rifle.
I'm not one to argue, but mainly trying to stress a point while trying to objectively answer the OP's question which was: "Is there a reason or an advantage to tamping the powder before you add in the bullet?"

I suppose there could be a reason or an advantage.

Last edited by arcticap; November 2, 2018 at 12:40 AM.
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Old November 1, 2018, 06:24 PM   #15
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Black MZ powder works much better when heavily compressed. Says so right on the bottle. i put a furniture knob on the ramrod and push hard as possible.

•Black MZ functions best when heavily compressed by the seated sabot.

If you're having misfires with a sidelock gun do the following:

1. Lean the gun with the lock side down. Slap the stock a couple times. That will allow powder to enter the flame channel or bolster.

2. Clean the flame channel using a bristled pipe cleaner.
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Old November 10, 2018, 02:11 PM   #16
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Out of sheer habit from longtime use, when I load the cylinders for my truck console Remington, after I pour in the premeasured charges and before I seat the balls into the chamber I always give the cylinder a couple of mild slaps with the palm of one hand. It helps even out the top of the powder columns just in case the dispensing process caused "hills" to form. And when I am really taking the time and doing it in a most relaxed manner I just might take a dowel and gently tap the powder column down a bit before loading the projectiles. A smoother powder column means easier to load a bullet, no air pockets being made in the load and possibly better performance during shooting too.
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Old November 10, 2018, 03:04 PM   #17
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This is what I was trying to explain in my post above.
I punch out these wax board cards from orange juice containers.

Then I ram the cards down onto the powder to highly compress it using a loading press.

After the balls are rammed, I experimented with putting cards over the balls, as a 2nd seal for the chambers.
But I stopped doing that due to being unnecessary.
However ramming the balls can additionally compress the powder.

This is what the cards look like after being fired through the barrel.

Using APP 3F, I've shot balls with and without lube and found that using lube is not necessary or recommended.
Once in a while I'll just swab out the barrel.
But I believe that compressing the powder greatly increases the velocity of the APP.

Last edited by arcticap; November 10, 2018 at 03:48 PM.
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